Reviews of Teen Books

Nineteen Eighty-Four
Orwell, George
4 stars = Really Good
Review:

Okay, let me just say this: All you poser dystopian teen novels 'breaking the rules' with scandalous gratuitous plot elements better just step back. Nineteen Eighty-Four, the granddaddy of all dystopian novels, just handed your butt to you. This book isn't kidding around. Danger, insubordination, illicit sex, graphic torture, this book has it all. It's not for the weak of heart. And the ending is so powerful and heart-wrenching! The only reason it doesn't get 5 stars from me is the lengthy political and philosophical treatises that appear a few times in the book. I get it, this is the quiet power behind the novel and the part that is dissected by academia. But I'm not an academic, so it didn't do it for me.

Reviewer's Name: vfranklyn
Awards:
Book Review: Illegal
Colfer, Eoin
5 stars = Bohemian Rhapsody Awesome!
Review:

Ebo’s brother Kwame is missing. But Ebo knows where he’s gone: to find their sister. Life in Libya is hard, so Ebo and Kwame’s sister, Hannah, left and promised to send back money once she was installed in Europe with a new job and more money. But since she left, Ebo and Kwame have heard nothing from her. So when Ebo wakes up one morning and Kwame is gone, Ebo knows he must go after him. What follows is the harrowing, heartbreaking story of Ebo’s journey through dangerous cities, deserts, and the ocean.

Wow. Look, I cry a lot, and am no stranger to crying whilst reading. But this book made me sob. Like, uncontrollable tears running down my face. The refugee story is often a sad and intense one, and Ebo’s is certainly no exception. And then, when you think about Ebo’s story in the context of it being a real thing happening to real people in this world that we all share, and the US is actively turning away people in similar if not the same situation, well, its depressing. But importantly so. One must also consider the fact that thousands of children, thousands of people are dying, and no one seems to care. It’s a deeply sad book that will cause lots of introspection, but for me, that’s a good thing. This is an issue that needs more attention.

The stunning artwork added to the impact. Seeing Ebo’s expressions - the heartbreak, loss, and hope playing out across his face – made what was already an intense, powerful story all the more affecting. I loved pretty much everything about this book, and I hope you take the time to read it. 5 stars.

Thanks to Baker & Taylor, Netgalley and Sourcebooks for the free paper and electronic advance copies, which I received in exchange for an honest review. Illegal is available now – put your copy on hold today!

Reviewer's Name: Britt
Briar Rose
Yolen, Jane
3 stars = Pretty Good
Review:

Based in modern day America, this novel tells the story of a girl trying to discover her grandmother's past after hearing the story of Briar Rose for many years. After her grandmother dies with her last words being, "Promise me you will find the castle. Promise me you will find the prince. Promise me you will find the maker of the spells," Becca will not give up looking for her grandmother's lost origins. She goes through the contents in the box left to her relentlessly, until she finds the name "Kulmhof" on a piece of paper. Becca proceeds to make some calls, and finally takes a trip to Poland where she meets a certain Josef Potocki. Josef then reveals to Becca the story of her grandmother's past. It was a brutal and ruthless history of origin occurring during the Holocaust.

Even though the book was quite interesting and definitely kept me reading, there was some content I personally found disturbing. Most of this content consists of Josef Potocki being openly and quite obviously gay and a gay and lesbian agenda being enforced throughout the entire book. There was also a brief description of a sexual encounter between Josef and one of his former gay lovers that was completely disgusting.

Overall, I could not stop reading this book and found it very intriguing! The three stars is because of the unnecessary LGBTQ references and sexual encounter. If not for those few things, this book would have been downright amazing.

Reviewer's Name: Ella S.
Wanderlost
Malone, Jen
5 stars = Bohemian Rhapsody Awesome!
Review:

Wanderlost is about a girl named Aubree who is perfectly comfortable with living in laid back Ohio. It's predictable and she's fine with that. One night when her parents are gone, Aubree decides to throw a party where her perfect goody two shoes sister named Elizabeth unexpectedly shows up. She doesn't seem to mind and she promises to keep the party a secret. But then the cops show up at the house and when one of the cops knows Elizabeth, he is desperate to get her into trouble for "serving underage drinkers" even though she never did. The tour company Elizabeth was going to work for is her only way to get into the job that she's been dreaming about forever. But because Elizabeth gets arrested, she begs Bree to go do the tour and pretend to be Elizabeth. After lots of persuading, Bree reluctantly agrees. She never expected to spend her summer traveling across Europe to several different incredible sites with five elderly people. Bree then has phone conversations with a boy named Sam whom she can't help falling for. I bet every reader will fall for him too ;) I know I did. Eventually, Bree knows she needs to tell Sam the truth about who she is. Can she do it? This book is one of the best books I've ever read. The author is great at describing feelings and the characters were round. I hope you guys will fall in love with the characters and plot as much as I have.

Reviewer's Name: Elizabeth P.
Apollo 8
Kluger, Jeffrey
5 stars = Bohemian Rhapsody Awesome!
Review:

In August 1968, NASA made the bold decision to win a major battle in the Cold War by launching the first manned flight to the moon. President Kennedy's deadline of putting a man on the moon by 1970 was fast approaching, but Frank Borman, Jim Lovell, and Bill Anders were up to the challenge to make a huge advancement in order to meat the deadline. Apollo 8 tells the full story of the mission from Mission Control to the astronauts' homes, from the test labs to the launch pad. Apollo 8 also gives a summary of the Mercury, Gemini, and the other Apollo missions and talks about the science behind the mission in an easy to understand manner. From the coauthor of the bestselling book about Apollo 13, Apollo 8 is a thrilling yer informative tale and a great resource to have. I highly recommend this book for anyone in high school or older who is fascinated by the space program or is doing a project on anything related to NASA.

Reviewer's Name: John B.
The Science of Breakable Things
Keller, Tae
4 stars = Really Good
Review:

I loved this book and its amazing way of taking a classic plot like a dead mother and transforming it into a mother than only seems dead, but is actually sick with depression. The main character, Natalie, misses how her mom used to act and be around her. When her teacher Mr. Neely requires a science project for school and suggests a egg drop, she enters the competition determined to win the cash prize. Natalie thinks she can use the money to take her mom and herself to see a rare blue orchid her mom used to study when she still worked. With the help of her best friend and a new acquaintance, will her hopes to have her mom back to normal splat right in front of her? I recommend this book for an easy, but inspiring read about friendship, family, and keeping hope alive.

Reviewer's Name: Cook, Anna
Genres:
Curtsies & Conspiracies
Carriger, Gail
5 stars = Bohemian Rhapsody Awesome!
Review:

As Sophronia Temminnick goes into her second year at Mademoiselle Geraldine's Finishing Academy for Young Ladies of Quality she is learning more and more ways to kill with weapons, poisons, and over tea. To infiltrate a hive of vampires. And to subdue you by simply looking at you. For this is no normal finishing academy, it is a school that is training her to be a spy. With 10 boys from Bunson's (school for evil geniuses in training) on board. Being friends with two boys Lord Mercy and Soap the sootie will be much harder than you will expect, considering that they are both fighting for her. As an unexpected trip to London appears out of nowhere what will Sophrnoia have to do to uncover the truth and save her friends?

Reviewer's Name: Anneka S.
The Scorpio Races
Stiefvater, Maggie
5 stars = Bohemian Rhapsody Awesome!
Review:

How would it feel to ride the most powerful and the fastest thing on the island of Thisbe? Well Sean Kendrick is doing just that, on his mount, the water horse Core. And what will it be like for Puck Connoly? The first woman to ride in the races, ever, on her island horse Dove? and how will this all play out when Mut Malvern on a breathlessly fast piebald mare, who wants to hurt Sean more than anything learns that Sean cares for Puck. What will happen in the corse of 2 weeks of training and a 5 minute race.

Reviewer's Name: Anneka S.
Genres:
America is Not the Heart
Castillo, Elaine
2 stars = Meh
Review:

Sometimes, this book had amazing descriptions about experiences and personalities. But the majority of the book was dreadfully dull and dragged on and on. The main character described, in detail, her hook-up stories and one-night stands, leading up to her more fruitful and lengthy relationship with a witty, quick woman named Rosalyn. I felt that although physical intimacy is a large factor in mature relationships, I really didn't need to hear about EVERYTHING they did to each other. I was drawn into the story because the plot seemed fascinating. In theory, it would be, but the author was so fixated on producing a lengthy novel that the story was drawn out. So the story line is this: Hero De Vera arrives in the US as an illegal Filipino immigrant. Her uncle welcomes them into his home, without questioning her very questionable past. The past where she dropped out of medical school, took up one night stands with near strangers, and joined the New People's Army, a discreet organization in the Philippines, where lots of murderous secrets lurk. Hero moves into her uncles house, and is welcomed into the work-alcoholic behavior of her uncle and aunt, who are trying to provide for their family and others. Their young, American-born Filipino daughter, Ronnie, is feisty and spunky. Hero meets Rosalyn and, almost instantaneously, begins to nurture a crush for her. That is, until their physical relationship begins. And THAT is when things got nasty. In conclusion, an intriguing plot, terrible writing, and unnecessary details on Hero's sexual pleasures. And it took a decent chunk out of my time, too.

Reviewer's Name: Jordan T.
Genres:
After Iris
Farrant, Natasha
4 stars = Really Good
Review:

This book is great! I loved how it captured a big-family dynamic, and how it completely dived into the mind of Bluebell, the twin of Iris, now dead. Bluebell struggles with her twin's death, the negligent behavior of her mourning parents, and the varying personalities of her eccentric remaining siblings. Her elder sister, Flora, is subject to outbursts, passionate rants, and dying her dreadlocks pink. Blue's younger siblings, Twig and Jasmine (yes, I'm aware they have stupid names) are temperamental and adorably obsessed with anything cute and fluffy. When Blue's parents hire a stay-in babysitter, Zoran, to tend to the kids full-time when the parents are away, Blue realizes that she doesn't have to live in the shadow Iris left behind when she died. She realizes she is her own person, outside of her deceased twin.

I LOVED this book! It's about a large family coping with loss, and a former twin coming to terms with her sister's premature death.

Reviewer's Name: Jordan T.
Genres:
George
Gino, Alex
4 stars = Really Good
Review:

Since it was so short, it was a really quick read, but by no means an easy one. I loved it because it was so eye opening, real, and heart breaking. I hated it for the same reasons. It was incredible! The only reason it doesn't get 5 stars is because it ended too quickly. "George" is about a 4th grader who knows she's a girl born into a boy's body. As she struggles to keep this concealed from her peers, she debates if she even should keep the truth a secret. I don't want to spoil it too much, but she receives support from some peers, and uncertainty and... almost disappointment?... from others. Please read it, it's amazing! I loved it so much.

Reviewer's Name: Jordan T.
Genres:
They Both Die at the End
Silver, Adam
4 stars = Really Good
Review:

At some points this book was really slow, but all in all it was really good! Essentially it's about two teenage boys with completely different life styles. They're drawn together when they both receive the ominous Death Call, a government-issued alert that warns the recipient that they will die that day. Shaken, Mateo vows to stay inside his house, contemplating that he'll never see his dad wake up from his comma, never see his best friend's daughter grow up. Rufus is shaken as well, but, in a panic after getting chased by the police, wonders around downtown. Until, a mysterious app called Last Friend brings them together. They are strangers and totally different. But it doesn't stop them from hanging out on their last day, crossing things off their bucket list and saying their good byes.

Reviewer's Name: Jordan T.
Genres:
Wonder
Palacio, R.J.
4 stars = Really Good
Review:

This book was given me to as a present and I truly had no intention of ever reading it, but when I did, I was insanely shocked at how much I thoroughly enjoyed it. I hadn't read a book like it before and I really enjoyed the drama that was in the story. I knew the plot was going to be interesting but I was really worried about how they would make a plot that didn't seem to shocking for a kid's book. The bullying part was done really well and I believe that instead of telling kids not to be mean, this book should be included in anti-bullying campaigns instead. This book can actually show children, especially younger ones, the effects that bullying anyone will have on the person. I really enjoyed the switching point of view from Auggie and Via because it was super interesting to see how Via reacted to everything about her brother as well, and the problems she had because of who her brother was. Since I had planned on regifting this book, I'm super glad I read it and while it may not be in my top ten favorites of all time, it does have a special place in my heart now.

Reviewer's Name: Brenna C.
Genres:
Beneath
Smith, Roland
4 stars = Really Good
Review:

The book beneath fallows the story of a teenage boy trying to find his older brother in the abandoned subway systems of New York City. I would definitely recommend this book to anyone who likes suspense books. I would maybe read this book again but for me it was just a one time read.

Reviewer's Name: Ashlyn H
Awards:
The Heart Forger
Chupeco, Rin
4 stars = Really Good
Review:

The Heart Forger is the second book in the Bone Witch series. This book is my favorite one so far. This fallows the story of Tea and her companions trying to find the Heart Forger after he goes missing. I would recommend this book only after you read the first book.

Reviewer's Name: Ashlyn H
The Bone Witch
Chupeco, Rin
3 stars = Pretty Good
Review:

The Bone Witch is a book based on the stir of a girl who has dark magic. When she discovers her powers she learn she has to defend her home from the monsters who want to destroy it. I would highly recommend this book to people who like fantasy books. I did enjoy reading it but the trilogy is not quite complete just keep that in mind when you read this book.

Reviewer's Name: Ashlyn H
Awards:
Plague Land
Scarrow, Alex
4 stars = Really Good
Review:

The book Plague Land is a new disease that is trying to wipe out life on earth. Over in England a family has to try and learn ways to outsmart and escape this disease. This book is very fast paced and a little gruesome. I really did enjoy this book. If you are fascinated with disease then I would highly recommend this book.

Reviewer's Name: Ashlyn H
Awards:
The Honest Truth
Giemeinhart, Dan
5 stars = Bohemian Rhapsody Awesome!
Review:

Overall a really amazing book about a boy with cancer who decides to climb up a mountain despite his decreasing health. Though he faces many challenges on his journey but his dog, Beau, helps him through it with unconditional love and support. It keeps you on the edge of your seat, never wanting to set it down. This book could be a challenging read for some, as you switch around perspectives multiple times, along with some particularly advanced work usage.

Reviewer's Name: Francesca J
Sisters
Teigemeier, Raina
4 stars = Really Good
Review:

This graphic novel is about a girl named Raina who couldn't wait to be a big sister but once Amara is born she realizes that sisterhood isn't the sunshine-rainbow-cakewalk she thought it would be. This book explores the big sister little sister relationship like no other book has done before. Family love, life lessons, and learning what it truly is to be sisters. Amazing #1 New York Times bestselling, Eisner Award-winning book that's definitely worth taking the time to read.

Reviewer's Name: Francesca J
The Fault in Our Stars
Green, John
4 stars = Really Good
Review:

This book is a heart-wrenching story about how you don't need a fairy tale situation to fall in love. Mr. Green's descriptions in this book are so good then even weeks after reading it, you could still have vivid images of the characters and settings. You may need a tissue or even book club friends to help you get through some of the moments and chapters in this book.
Overall A+ amazing book with exciting adventures and life lessons

Reviewer's Name: Francesca J

Pages